By Declan Taylor
Steve Bould thinks his current batch of Under-18s should be inspired by the continued progress of Kieran Gibbs.
The left-back, still only 19 years old, has established himself as Gael Clichy’s understudy this season. And, after the Frenchman’s back injury, Gibbs has enjoyed a sustained period in the first team, including 90 minutes in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley.
It has been a rapid transition for Gibbs who featured in last season’s FA Youth Cup and started this season as a regular in Neil Banfield’s Reserves.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Youth Cup Semi-Final second leg against Manchester City at Emirates Stadium, Academy boss Bould urged his team to take Gibbs as their model for success.
“I think Kieran’s progression is an inspiration for each and every one of our kids to see the level that he has reached,” Bould told Arsenal.com.
“It gives all of us at the Academy hope – staff included. It just shows that in the end if you’re good enough the gaffer will play you. There’s an incentive for every one of those kids.
“It’s not blocked at the minute and the manager wants to play as many home-grown players as possible and it’s up to us coaches at this end to get it right.
“I keep saying we’ve got good players and Kieran, we hope, is the start of a lot of good kids coming through.”
But can such a rapid transition be daunting for young professionals? Of course says Bould. However, the manager explained how it can also be of massive benefit.
“It can be daunting but in many ways Kieran doesn’t know what lies ahead,” Bould said. “Sometimes you can over think these things.
“When I reached 35 and was still playing at that kind of level I was more nervous than I was when I was 18 because I knew what was coming and I was aware of the pressures.
“Sometimes when you’re not fully aware of those pressures it helps.”
Arsenal face Manchester City in the FA Cup Youth Cup Semi-Final second leg at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. Click here for ticket information and click here for news of our live audio coverage.